Anterior Longitudinal Ligament Definition | Laser Spine Institute

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Anterior Longitudinal Ligament

The anterior longitudinal ligament is a long, thick ligament that traverses the entire length of the spinal canal and helps provide stability to the spinal column. Situated in front of the spinal cord in the spinal column, the ligament helps limit flexion and prevent over-extension.


The anterior longitudinal ligament, posterior longitudinal ligament and ligamentum flavum are three extremely important ligaments in the spinal column that provide stability, allow limited mobility and hold the anatomical components of the spine together. Each ligament is made of dense, connective fiber that adjoins bones, cartilage and soft tissue. The anterior longitudinal ligament is situated inside the vertebral bodies and extends from the axis in the second cervical vertebrae to the sacrum near the pelvis.

While ligaments are essential in ensuring proper spine alignment and overall spine health, they can also contribute to neck and back pain. In addition to the extremely common ligament sprains that nearly everyone experiences at some point in his or her life, ligaments can also calcify later in life. This calcification of the ligaments causes noticeable loss of flexibility and can even lead to chronic pain when a spinal nerve or the spinal cord becomes irritated or constricted as a result of the deterioration.

Symptoms and treatments

Some of the most common symptoms associated with anterior longitudinal ligament dysfunction include:

  • Local pain
  • Traveling pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness
  • Soreness or stiffness
  • Fatigue

To learn more about the anterior longitudinal ligament, spinal stenosis and treatment for chronic neck and back pain, visit a spine specialist or your family physician. If chronic pain persists after several weeks of conservative treatment, Laser Spine Institute may be able to alleviate your discomfort with a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure – known as a laminotomy – that is designed to decompress the spinal nerves. Contact us today for more information on how this procedure may help you find relief from neck and back pain.

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